July 16, 2024
What Are the Best Lighting Techniques for a Swimsuit Photoshoot?

What Are the Best Lighting Techniques for a Swimsuit Photoshoot?

Put a model in a bikini, chase some good sunlight, and that’s time to wrap up and slurp delicious pina coladas. Phew!

If only swimsuit photography were that simple to plan and execute. Clicking swimsuit photos can be quite challenging for multiple reasons.

The vast expanse can inundate your frame with clutter if you choose an outdoor location.

Depending on the weather conditions that day, the outcome can differ drastically.

Choosing the right time of the day and the right swimsuit colors for the right shot are all factors that can impact your outcome.

Here are the best lighting tips to follow for a great swimsuit photography

1. Choose Wardrobe Well

Choose Wardrobe Well

The first and most important tip before you start is choosing the right wardrobe.

While this tip might surprise you, it can be a game-changer for your photoshoot.

If you have control over which swimsuit the model can wear, pick one that compliments the swimsuit photoshoot ideas set-up and the model’s color tone.

A good flattering swimwear that compliments the model and also the background can do wonders.

For example, choose a white bikini in case a white element is in the background.

Just brings out the beauty of the shot wonderfully. You can choose warmer-colored bikinis at the end of the day, i.e., sunset, as the colors of the sky get warmer.

Work with color theory, and you won’t go wrong.

2. Choose the Right Lens

Choose the Right Lens

When you are in an outdoor shoot set-up, there is a lack of time; a lot is going on in the background.

Capturing the right moment at the right moment is critical. This is where a lens that has a high zooming-in capacity with clear image quality matters.

Have the flexibility to shoot 3/4th, close-up, and full-length shots without changing your position too much.

For instance, if you see a stunning flock of birds in the background, you should be able to take a full-length shot with the background, a quick zoom-in, and a close-up shot.

This is why a good zoom-in lens such as Canon EF 24-70 F/2.8L.

3. Keep an Eye on The Horizon

Keep an Eye on The Horizon

This is because there can be a tilt in the horizon appearance when trying to capture the frame correctly.

You need to mind the horizon line. Ideally, placing the horizon in the corner or edge of the image is a better idea than in the center.

Because of the line, the image appears to be cut in half, and the halves’ color and light gradient differ.

Follow the rule of thirds and ensure you get a good click quickly instead of spending too much time reaching the horizon line, right?

4. Sunlight as Backlight

Sunlight as Backlight

While sunkissed looks are all the rage on Instagram, as a photographer, there is so much you can do with the sun as the model’s backlight.

Not only do they create the most amazing silhouettes, but they also give the model the right kind of lighting.

An illumination effect from the back elevates the photo quality. The good part about this pose is that the model gets a little time off the direct sun hitting their eyes.

The sand works as a good reflector and lights up the model with illuminating brilliance.

5. Shoot Raw

Shoot Raw

It’s best to shoot the image in RAW for a well-defined, natural image quality.

Photographers may often be tempted to stick to the JPEG format; however, because RAW is an uncompressed photo file, it captures much more than meets the eye.

Therefore, choosing RAW photos gives the photographer much more to work with, and it can always be edited later.

6. Make Use of The Water

Make Use of The Water

Swimsuit photography, whether indoor or outdoors, will have a water source.

Say goodbye to the hassles that shadows create by working near or in the water.

It also acts as a great reflector and can be used to the advantage if you know how to work the angles.

Using good waves at the right moment to accentuate the photograph is always a brilliant idea.

If you want to take some still shots using reflection photography, you must work meticulously to ensure that the photos flatter the pose and image well.

7. Black and White Photos, FTW!

Black and White Photos, FTW!

The best way to create drop-dead swimsuit images that accentuate the model and the swimwear design is to use black-and-white photography.

Here, choose the right background set-up, for instance, a cloudy sky, and create stunning black and white images.

If bad weather or gloomy light has brought down your shot tempo, you can always make the best use of time with the right black-and-white shots.


Creating the perfect swimsuit photography portfolio depends greatly on how you have worked around the lighting elements.

Using simple hacks such as knowing your background, choosing the right colors, and being mindful of the time and day play a big role in the outcome of your photo shoot.

Besides this, choosing the right camera, practicing well, and understanding how color plays around with the camera are fundamental pillars of getting the right kind of swimsuit shots.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Most Flattering Lighting in Photography?

Generally, butterfly lighting is one of the most preferred lighting types used for portraits. It does an excellent job of accentuating the model’s natural features, such as the cheekbones and jawline, and gives stunning, glamorous shots.

What is the Most Attractive Lighting Angle?

Ideally, an angle of 45 degrees is the best lighting angle. That means you are at a 45-degree angle from the model. It mimics the Rembrandt lighting that best highlights the subject more naturally and aesthetically pleasingly.

Amelia Williams

Amelia Williams, with over a decade of experience in visual arts, holds a BA in Fine Arts. She has been a professional photographer since 2012. She has worked with various magazines and online platforms, specializing in portrait and event photography. Her workshops and seminars, conducted since 2015, focus on enhancing artistic expression. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and experimenting with landscape photography. Being a travel lover, she often conducts photography retreats in picturesque locations.

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